Curing a Rage Headache: Internet Drama & Activism
Does this proposal piss you off? In recent years, the Internet has honed its use as a platform for righteous rage, from ranting blog posts to Facebook campaigns.
Politicized outrage, as opposed to flame wars, usually starts with a gaffe or an incendiary sentiment by someone in the public eye, or an offensive ad campaign, at which point the public jumps in en masse.
Can this generate change? In March, nearly 50,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding The New York Times apologize for its coverage of the gang-rape of a child, after bloggers called it out for victim-blaming; the Times eventually assigned an entirely new story in response. In July, it was bloggers that first pointed out that the FAMiLY LEADER pledge signed by Michele Bachmann contained (historically fantastical) nostalgia about how black families were so much better off during slavery, and that part got removed.
But are these ephemeral victories, as the horde moves on to the next shiny thing? Are they generating real conversation, or just noise? How do different technological platforms change how the conversation is carried out? And what's the best cure for a rage headache?
DeAnne Cuellar is an Independent media maker, blogger, and former Executive Director of the Media Justice League (MJL). She currently serves the City of San Antonio for City Council, District 3, as Chief Information Officer for Councilwoman Ozuna.
Irin Carmon is a journalist and commentator. She’s staff writer at Salon.com, where she focuses on politics and culture, and also frequently contributes to other publications and to television programs. In 2011, she was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in media and featured in New York magazine as a face of young feminism. She received the November 2011 Sidney award from the Sidney Hillman foundation recognizing her reporting on the Mississippi Personhood Initiative for Salon.
Jay Smooth is founder and host of New York's longest running hip-hop radio show, the Underground Railroad on WBAI 99.5 FM in NY. With its pioneering blend of independent hip-hop mixed with classic jazz and social commentary, the Underground Railroad played a key role in developing New York's underground hip-hop scene in the 1990s, and helped break many artists the including the Wutang Clan, Naughty By Nature, Jean Grae and Natural Elements.
In recent years Jay Smooth has won widespread acclaim for his video commentaries on culture and politics at Illdoctrine.com, hailed by the Rachel Maddow show as "genius" and selected as one of iTunes' "Best Podcasts of the Year." Jay's recent TEDx Talk entitled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Talking About Race" was featured by TED as an "Editor's Pick," and is already one of the most viewed talks on the TEDx website. Jay has also been a frequent contributor to NPR, and his writing is featured in the Village Voice, The Source, XXL and Wax Poetics. His current Skyrim avatar is a Redguard Thief/Assassin named Lady of Rage.
Sady Doyle started the ladybusiness blog Tiger Beatdown -- available at the conveniently obvious tigerbeatdown.com -- in September of 2008. Since then, that site has expanded into a group blog with the fabulous S.E. Smith, Garland Grey, Emily Manuel, and Flavia Dzodan, and Sady has written for The Atlantic, Salon, the Guardian, Bitch Magazine, The Awl, and all manner of places about the Internet. She currently writes for Rookie Magazine and In These Times.